Have you ever noticed you boss seems not only comfortable during a company meeting but perhaps takes up a bit more space at the conference table than say, the newcomer to the team? According to new research, there is more going on here than meets the eye.
The new study information is being used by perhaps an unlikely source – furniture designers…though that does seem to make sense when you think about it.
Essentially, the way we sit and take up space in an area says much about our feeling of power. Have you ever been nervous to have a meeting with your superior at work and have your stomach tighten a bit more when you see them sitting back, hands behind their head looking even larger than normal? Think about how this works in nature. There are countless animals who puff themselves up to appear larger and more powerful to predators.
The study took place at the University of California Berkley’s Hass School of Business. To get a better understanding of people’s relationship with the amount of space they take up, researchers put study participants through a series of tests. The basis of the test was to put participants in different postures while offering them the chance to cheat. Video games simulating race car driving were used while participants sat in large or small chairs. They were instructed to wait 10 seconds after crashing before trying again. Those who were in the larger chairs were more likely to drive recklessly and to ignore the instruction to wait 10 seconds.
To put this new knowledge into a more practical application, it is also mentioned that posture or the way in which a person takes up space in a job interview or any other important meeting may set the tone for how the person is perceived by his or her peers.
As quoted from a recent TIME article –
“Your physical posture may have an impact upon how stressful you feel before employment interviews or speaking in front of a group,” says Marla R. Gottschalk, an industrial organization psychologist who specialized in working with businesses on workplace strategies. “So striking a ‘power pose’ shortly before the interview, one where we make ourselves larger, not smaller and closed, is indicated.”